Propaganda pushed on Russia state-owned television channels appears to have taken a more determined, aggressive approach over the past month, characterised by the description of Russian action shifting from that of a “special military operation” to a programme of “de-Ukrainianisation”. Britain has also appeared more prominently in recent reports and has been painted by one retired intelligence officer as the “main engine of the whole anti-Russian project”.
A countless number of Russian officials and pundits have appeared on TV in front of millions of viewers decrying Britain’s role in the war.
One, Ilya Kiva, a pro-Kremlin former Ukrainian MP, quoted by Francis Scarr of the BBC, described Boris Johnson’s recent visit to Kyiv as a visit to his “colony”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, again quoted by Mr Scarr, also described Kyiv as being “under the leadership of Britain’s highly experienced intelligence services”.
In perhaps the most extreme example yet of Russian authorities branding Ukraine as under Britain’s thumb, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs attacked the UK’s “colonial methods”.
Its official Twitter page quoted Zakharova: “London successfully exports its colonial methods. The methods of suppressing the Donbass were obviously taught by British instructors and political mentors.
“We wonder if the Ukrainians understand that London uses them as a typical colonial cannon fodder?”
Writer Mark Galeotti joked in response: “Moscow’s continued belief that the UK is its most subtle and enduring enemy is something I find touching and heartening.”
Twitter user Paul Gross also jibed: “Makes me proud to be British!”
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Alongside pushing the narrative of Britain’s “colonial” control over Ukraine, Russian propagandists have insisted the war in Ukraine must go further than the plan that has been set out by Vladimir Putin.
Orthodox tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev told state-owned Channel One Russia his country was engaged not simply in a “special military operation” against Ukraine but a “holy war”.
He, quoted by Mr Scarr, described the people of Ukraine as “satanists” and “pagans”.
Max Seddon from the Financial Times responded in a post on Twitter: “You know the Kremlin wants to promote once-fringe imperialist ideologues like Malofeyev when they put them on prime time state TV.”
Channel One Russia is perhaps best known in the West for momentarily and accidentally broadcasting an anti-war demonstration by former employee Marina Ovsyannikova.
She famously burst on to a live set holding a banner and shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.”
Ovsyannikova has since been issued a minor fine and has been hired by a German newspaper.